The heads of the UK and US investigative services have warned of the threat posed by China, in an unprecedented joint intervention.
FBI Director Christopher Wray called China "the greatest long-term threat to our economic and national security" and said it has interfered in US politics, including recent elections.
His MI5 counterpart, Ken McCallum, explained that the British agency has more than doubled its workload against Chinese activity in the last three years, and will double it again.
Compared to 2018, MI5 is now conducting seven times more investigations into the activities of the Chinese Communist Party, it added. The director of the FBI, for his part, considered that if China took Taiwan by force "it would be one of the most horrible business interruptions the world has ever seen."
The first joint public appearance of the two directors took place at the MI5 headquarters in London's Thames House building. The latter warned the audience, which included company CEOs and university officials, that the Chinese government is "ready to steal their technology" using a variety of tools.
He said that Beijing represents "an even more serious threat to Western business than even many sophisticated businessmen have realized." He also warned that China has deployed cyber espionage to "cheat and steal on a large scale" with a hacking program larger than those of all other major countries combined.
McCallum also listed a number of examples linked to China.
These included that of a British aviation expert who was contacted online and offered an attractive job opportunity.
He traveled to China twice for "food and drinks" before a company, which was actually a front for Chinese intelligence authorities, asked him for technical information on military aircraft.
In the US, the director of the FBI accused the Chinese government of directly interfering this spring in a congressional election in New York, because he did not want a candidate critical of his system and a former Tiananmen Square protester to be elected.
They did so, he explained, by hiring a private investigator to uncover sensitive information. Unable to find anything, he said, they tried to fabricate a case involving a sex worker and even suggested causing a car accident.
Furthermore, according to Wray, China is learning "all kinds of lessons" from the conflict in Ukraine. This includes trying to evade in the future any sanctions similar to those imposed on Russia.
The Chinese position
Although there is still no response from Beijing to the FBI and MI5 conference, these statements come amid a deterioration in relations between China and the West that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has only increased.
China has declared that the United States wants to de facto install NATO, or a branch of the military alliance, on its doorstep.
A month earlier, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: "The real goal of the US strategy in the Indo-Pacific is to create a branch of NATO in the region."